Valentine’s Day is a special time of year. It’s celebrated with cards, candy, flowers, chocolate and romantic dinners. It’s nice to go out and to be catered to … no cooking, no dishes and no clean-up. But it’s also nice to make or create a meal that costs at least half as much as a restaurant meal would cost, not to mention the bottle of wine that in some places could be 2 or 3 times the cost of a bottle that you can buy on your own. Did you ever calculate the cost of everything you decide to make in your home, and compare the cost with how much it could be if you were in a restaurant? Most times the cost difference is staggering!
Here’s a menu idea that you’ll be amazed when you compare it to restaurant fare. There are several recipes included. Let me say one more thing: eat light all week before and after this meal. This is a splurge meal and although you can try to make it as healthy as you can, the soup is very rich and not for the diet conscious. And start early. Take your time to stretch it out so you can enjoy each and every morsel without filling up too soon. Moderation is key!
Valentine’s Day Menu
Mixed Greens with Goat Cheese
Filet Mignon with button & baby portabella mushrooms
Sautéed Broccolini with shrimp, garlic and oyster sauce
Potato or extra vegetable of your choice
4 Cups half & half
Crushed Shells from 2 1-lb cooked lobsters
8 Tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons flour
1 Teaspoon tomato paste
1 Teaspoon paprika
Dash of nutmeg
1 cup lobster meat — you can either use more than 2 lobsters to reach the 1 cup of lobster meat, or you can purchase frozen lobster meat to add to the meat from your lobsters.
1/2 cup cream sherry
Salt & white pepper
Simmer half & half with crushed lobster shells and 4 tablespoons of the butter for 15 minutes or so. Strain, pressing on the shells and reserve the liquid for later.
In a heavy bottom saucepan, melt the other 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for 5 minutes. You need to stir constantly and keep the heat low so the mixture doesn’t brown. Add tomato paste, paprika and nutmeg. Whisk half & half into the butter/flour mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring to thicken. Add lobster meat and sherry. Simmer gently for 5 minutes adding salt and white pepper to taste.
Makes 6 1-cup servings.
Mixed Greens with Lemon Vinaigrette & Warm Goat Cheese
Mixed Salad Greens or Arugula
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Drizzle of water
1 red ripe pear
1 Goat Cheese log
Panko Break Crumbs
1 tablespoon butter
Put the goat cheese log in the freezer for about 20 minutes or so. Wash the greens. In a small frying pan, add the butter, brown sugar and stir until liquid, if the mixture looks too thick, add a drizzle of water (less fattening than more butter!). Add the nuts and cook just to coat the nuts with the brown sugar and to release and enrich the oil of the nuts. Cook just until bubbly, stirring often. Let cool on a paper plate.
Whisk the egg white until the albumen is loose. Pour about ½ cup of Panko bread crumbs into a shallow bowl. After 20 minutes, slice the goat cheese carefully with either a fine thin knife or thin unflavored dental floss. Dip each piece (1 piece per serving) into the egg white and then coat with the bread crumbs. Place in refrigerator until ready to cook.
Just when it’s time to serve the salad, slice the pear in long thin slices. Toss the salad greens with the vinaigrette. Sprinkle some of the walnuts on top of the salad, and overlap groups of pear slices on the salad leaving a section in the middle for the goat cheese.
In a frying pan, over medium heat, add a tablespoon of butter (or more if more than 2 goat cheese slices are used). When the butter is melted, before it browns, place the chilled goat cheese medallions into the frying pan and fry just until the bottom is golden brown. Don’t check it until a minute has passed. When golden brown, carefully turn the medallions over and brown the other side until golden. Gently remove the medallions with tongs and place in the middle of the salad.
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil or light olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Agave nectar to taste
Salt & pepper to taste
Pour all ingredients into a small bowl, and either whisk vigorously with a whisk or in mini food processor until emulsified. Add more Agave Nectar if too tart and salt & pepper if too bland, whisk/blend again.
Filet Mignon & Mushrooms
6-oz Filet Mignons (I usually like mine 2 inches thick)
Kosher or sea salt
Baby portabella and button mushrooms
Bring steaks to room temperature and season the filets with Olive Oil, salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder. Heat the grill so that it is raging hot — about 500 or more degrees! Cooking time varies with thickness, but with 2” filets, for Medium Rare, cook on one side for 1 ½ minutes, then turn in another direction, not over — you want to create cris-cross marks. Cook for another 1 1/2 minutes, then flip over and do the same thing until it is cooked for a total of 6-7 minutes for medium rare and 8-9 minutes for Medium.
For the onions and mushroom topping, you can thinly slice a Vidalia onion and cut up some baby Bella and button mushrooms. In a cast iron skillet, or regular frying pan, add about 2 tablespoons of butter and sautée the onions until they are a light golden color and caramelized. Add the mushrooms and cook on medium heat until they are browned. You can add a splash of port or sherry, or leave as is. Just season with salt and pepper to taste.
Broccolini with Garlic, Shrimp and Oyster Sauce
1 bunch broccolini
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
Shrimp — 31 count, cleaned and deveined, allow for about 3 per person
Oyster Sauce to taste
Use a potato peeler to slightly peel the stems of the broccolini. Cut the broccolini stems in 2 inch pieces so they can go into the boiling water about a minute before the floret sections go in. When you cook the broccolini whole, sometimes the stems are hard but the floret sections are perfect, or the stems are just right and the floret sections are mush! This seems to even out the cooking result. Only par cook since these will be sautéed with garlic and shrimp when ready to serve.
In frying pan over medium heat, add oil and garlic and shrimp. Cook shrimp until they start to turn pink (don’t let the garlic turn brown). Add the broccolini. Stir altogether and add a little of the Oyster Sauce. You need to taste as you add so that it isn’t too salty or “saucy”. We are only adding the oyster Sauce to give the broccolini and shrimp a little zing.